DENR to review IFMA contracts in Sultan Kudarat

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) will review integrated forest management agreements (IFMAs) awarded to certain private firms in Sultan Kudarat province amid concerns from local communities.

DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu said the review will also cover “irregularities” surrounding the IFMAs, as well as to find out whether these contracts were lawfully awarded.

“We will meet with concerned government officials and private companies because we want to know the reason behind the decision to award or merge certain contracts,” Cimatu said.

Cimatu made the assurance during a dialogue with representatives from the local government and indigenous peoples (IP) group in Sultan Kudarat who questioned the legitimacy of some individual and merged IFMAs in the province.

During the dialogue, the groups presented to Cimatu their complaints and the list of questionable individual and merged IFMAs, as contained in a provincial board resolution.

Among those who attended the meeting were Sultan Kudarat Rep. Suharto Mangudadatu, some mayors and IP leaders from the towns of Bagumbayan, Esperanza, Kalamansig, Lebak and Sen. Ninoy Aquino.

Citing the provincial board resolution, Mangudadatu said the IPs suffer because of the “uprooting and destruction of their crops by companies that have been issued with IFMAs.”

He said that these problems have also worsened the peace and order situation in the province.

IFMAs are production-sharing contracts entered into by and between the DENR and a qualified applicant. Under such contract, the DENR grants the IFMA holder the exclusive right to develop, manage, protect and utilize a specified area of forestland and forest resource therein for a period of 25 years and may be renewed for another 25-year period.

The agreement is consistent with the principle of sustainable development and in accordance with an approved Comprehensive Development and Management Plan, and under which both parties share in its produce. ###